Wild Hearts

Geek Review: Wild Hearts

Considering the many genres that video games cover, it is no wonder that new ideas can be quite hard to come by. Instead, it is more likely that ideas evolve and are expanded upon, leading to potentially new and refreshing ideas. For EA and Koei Tecmo’s Wild Hearts, that is exactly the case when it comes to hunting gigantic monsters for their parts and trying to save the world. 

It is entirely impossible to talk about Wild Hearts without mentioning the huge elephant in the room that is Capcom’s Monster Hunter series. Both games feature the hunt for majestic creatures, fights against towering beasts that bring lots to the table, crafting elements that can improve your chances of survival, and many other supporting mechanics. 

This apples-to-apples comparison both works for and against Wild Hearts, but as the saying goes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and for the most part, the new kid on the block gets the fundamentals right. However, it also delivers something that makes it stand out from the competition, in the form of the Karakuri building system.

In your fights against the mighty Kemono roaming the land of Azuma, it becomes more than just a test of your combat skills. The Karakuri allows the game to flex its strategic muscles in more ways than one, giving players the tools to experiment and get creative when trying to close the gap on the beasts. 

Geek Review Wild Hearts

Constructing structures out of thin air during combat is more than just a fancy party trick, paving the way for more complex solutions that can turn the tide of battle. Stack three crates up, and you get a platform for launching more powerful jump attacks; torches lets you execute a quick-fire attack, while springs give you a boost when navigating the battlefield. 

The nature of the Karakuri means that they are often useful in most instances, meant to break apart when the Kemono decides to attack or leave the area. And as Wild Hearts progresses, so does your mastery of Karakuri, opening up the way to infinitely more useful Fusion Karakuri.

Instead of just crates, why not combine two stacks of three and create a Bulwark that can block enemy charges and flip them to make them vulnerable? There are even bombs and traps that can be brought into existence, allowing the smart and tactical hunters to even the odds in all sorts of ways. 

That is just the tip of the iceberg, as the Karakuri system extends into the preparation and navigation phase of the hunt too. Benefit from increased food buffs with better fermenting equipment, or construct a zipline to allow quick travel between the ground and the surrounding peaks. The depth of the Karakuri system is truly impressive, and allows players to tailor their playstyle accordingly with enhancements that will always be useful, turning each fight and map into puzzles that can be stacked in your favour eventually.

However, it is also key to note that the combat itself in Wild Hearts is no slouch, providing a satisfying blend of action and tactical manoeuvring that feels so well balanced like in the Monster Hunter games. Knowing when to strike, defend, or get some distance is always key, and taking the time to observe your prey always pays off compared to diving in without a thought.  

Having an interesting roster of Kemono to fight also helps keep things entertaining, with creative and awesome-looking designs that truly embrace the idea of nature-infused creatures that are causing trouble. From the frosty Deathstalker wolf to the fire-loving Lavaback monkey, fighting these beasts for the first time always elicits a sense of discovery and awe. Different behaviours, patterns, and of course, attacks, also help keep players on their toes at all times.

That said, Wild Hearts could really do with more additions to its bestiary, with the initial dozen monster types joined by coloured variants that come with a different elemental infusion. Sure, they may offer distinct parts that can help you in crafting the best set of equipment for your hunter, but surely there is room for more Kemono ideas to be realised down the line. 

Thankfully, there’s another way to keep things from getting stale in Wild Hearts, and that is the eight different weapon types available fairly early on in the story. These armaments truly allow players to fight differently in all situations, making sure that no one has to feel locked into their choice. A katana might be too traditional for some, so there’s the option of a giant maul to make an impact, or perhaps you prefer a bladed umbrella that makes parrying a key part of your approach. Needless to say, getting good at both reading the Kemono and how your favoured weapon functions will lead to the best results.

Geek Review Wild Hearts

As far as gameplay is concerned, Wild Hearts sits pretty comfortably among its contemporaries in the genre, helped by removing some of the more cumbersome features like weapon sharpening and the like. However, it is not without its issues.

The game both looks great and bad in equal measure, with occasional framerate drops that do not seem to make sense. The four biomes found on the hunting maps are full of life and fantastic imagery, helped by the excellent creature design, but the experience can be easily marred by low-quality textures that appear, poor lighting, and even some weird effects that can reduce visibility.

And while Wild Hearts is perfectly playable solo, it does seem like having a teammate or two is the preferred method the game wants you to play. Compared to penalising players for  death with its three-strikes system in solo play, a similar death in a co-op game has the additional safety net of revives to keep things moving forward.

Geek Review Wild Hearts

The campaign structure and pacing could also be improved, tasking players with hunting down Kemono that are usually too strong without grinding and gathering resources. That might be the standard formula, but there is nothing stopping the studio from keeping the process more interesting with better quest design and rewards. 

Wild Hearts occupies an intriguing position, both as its own game but also as one that takes its inspiration heavily from a beloved franchise. The familiarity is not a dealbreaker, and in fact, it helps as a starting point for players with its increased accessibility and improved quality-of-life features. The Karakuri system is easily the biggest innovation that takes things up a notch, and if more Kemono are on the way, then Wild Hearts is in a good place as the next step for your monster-hunting journey.

Wild Hearts is available on the PSN Store for $95.79.



A familiar formula enriched by its Karakuri building system, Wild Hearts is a competent and accessible addition to the monster-hunting genre.

  • Gameplay - 8.5/10
  • Story - 7/10
  • Presentation - 7.5/10
  • Value - 8/10